Newsman: More than a dozen mutinous soldiers declared Monday on state television that a military junta had seized control of Burkina Faso after detaining the democratically elected president following a day of gun battles in the capital of the West African country. The new military regime said it had suspended Burkina Faso’s constitution and dissolved the National Assembly. The country’s borders were closed, and a curfew was in effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Capt. Sidsore Kaber Ouedraogo said the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration “has decided to assume its responsibilities before history.” The soldiers put an end to President Roch Marc Christian Kabore’s presidency because of the deteriorating security situation and the president’s inability to manage the crisis, he said.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on coup leaders to lay down their arms. He reiterated the U.N.’s “full commitment to the preservation of the constitutional order” in Burkina Faso and support for the people in their efforts “to find solutions to the multifaceted challenges facing the country,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
It was not immediately known where Kabore was, and the junta spokesman said only that the coup had taken place “without any physical violence against those arrested, who are being held in a safe place, with respect for their dignity.”
The military coup in a nation that was once a bastion of stability was the third of its kind in the region in the last 18 months, creating upheaval in some of the countries hardest hit by Islamic extremist attacks. Burkina Faso has also seen its share of coup attempts and military takeovers, although it experienced a period of relative stability under Compaore, who ruled for 27 years until his ouster in 2014.
The U.N. Chief said the military takeover was part of “an epidemic of coups around the world and in that region.”
The U.S. State Department in a statement expressed deep concern about the dissolution of the government, suspension of the constitution and the detention of government leaders. “We condemn these acts and call on those responsible to deescalate the situation, prevent harm to President Kaboré and any other members of his government in detention, and return to civilian-led government and constitutional order,” spokesperson Ned Price said.
After the televised announcement, crowds took to the streets, cheering and honking car horns in support of the takeover. People hoped that the coup would ease the devastation they have endured since jihadist violence spread across the country.
Capt. Sidsore Kaber Ouedraogo said that the country’s new leaders would work to establish a calendar “acceptable to everyone” for holding new elections without giving further details.
A soldier in the mutiny, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of situation, told The Associated Press that Kabore had submitted his resignation.
The communique read aloud on state broadcaster RTB was signed by the country’s apparent new military leader, Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba. He sat beside the spokesman without addressing the camera during the announcement.
In a statement, Kabore’s political party accused the mutinous soldiers of trying to assassinate the president and another government minister and said the presidential palace in Ouagadougou remained surrounded by “heavily armed and hooded men.”
Gunfire erupted early Sunday when soldiers took control of a major military barracks in the capital. In response, civilians rallied in a show of support for the rebellion but were dispersed by security forces firing tear gas. On Monday, groups of people celebrated again in the streets of the capital after reports of Kabore’s capture.
Kabore was elected in 2015 after the popular uprising that ousted Compaore. Kabore was reelected in November 2020, but frustration has been growing at his inability to stem the jihadist violence. Attacks linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have killed thousands and displaced more than an estimated 1.5 million people.
The West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS said in a statement that it was following events in Ouagadougou with “great concern.” The bloc has already suspended Mali and Guinea over military coups. Those coup leaders appear in no hurry to return their countries to civilian rule.
In 1987, Compaore came to power by force. And in 2015, soldiers loyal to him attempted to overthrow the transitional government put into place after his ouster. The army was ultimately able to put the transitional authorities back in power, who led again until Kabore won an election and took office.